John Stix, 83, artistic director at Center Stage

October 06, 2004

John Stix, former artistic director at Baltimore's Center Stage who taught acting for the last 30 years at The Juilliard School in New York City, died of a heart attack Saturday at a hospital in Hackensack, N.J. He was 83 and lived in Sneden's Landing, N.Y.

The St. Louis native was a 1942 graduate of Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where he earned a bachelor's degree in musicology. After Army Signal Corps service in Europe during World War II, he earned a master's degree in fine arts from the Yale School of Drama.

His Broadway directing credits include The Price, Take a Giant Step, Too Late the Phalarope, Othello, Mar Trees and What Every Woman Knows.

He was artistic director at Center Stage from 1970 to 1973, a period in which he directed a number of productions, including The Trial of the Catonsville Nine, Slow Dance on the Killing Ground and Fire in the Mindhouse.

"He was instrumental in the evolution of Center Stage into a nationally recognized resident theater," said Peter W. Culman, the theater's former managing director. "He was also the first theater person admitted to The Actors Studio, and that was quite a distinction."

Mr. Culman praised Mr. Stix as his mentor: "John taught me that a play is a series of moments strung together. When you watched one of his productions, he avoided cliches and the predictable. What you were watching was real, truthful and, quite frankly, a surprise. It was his great strength."

Mr. Stix was also a faculty member at Circle in the Square Theatre School in New York.

Plans for a memorial service were incomplete yesterday.

There are no survivors.

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